MSP - Mid Month Update - Post a Review of places you've dined at in Jan 2007!
Had lunch at Little Szechuan yesterday. I ordered off the black menu, my friend off the green.
I had the spicy, crispy chicken and green beans in special sauce. Both dishes were simply outstanding. Why someone would order the general tsao's or sesame chicken if they can get this, I have no idea.
I should've kept better notes on where I've eaten. I did not realize there would be a quiz.
Taqueria La Hacienda - I got the al pastor combo meal and horchata to drink. The horchata was a little too sweet, but very comforting. The beans that came with the meal were wonderful, very tender. The al pastor was good, but not the best ever. But I'm still working my way through the many al pastor offerings on Lake St.
Tom Reids for Happy Hour - The deals are good (2 for one drinks and reduced price apps). Otherwise, it was pretty unremarkable.
Birchwood for takeout - I had a curried chicken dish with lime leaves. Wonderfully fragrant with lots of juicy chunks of chicken. I'm still learning my way around the Cities and I only got lost once on the way home.
MGMkt Chowdown - This was awesome. There is no better way to taste a whole bunch of foods than to join up with fellow chowhounds. And it was good practice for February when some friends are flying in to visit. I especially appreciate that chowhounds are eager to push beyond the familiar, talk to the vendors, and look for unusual new things to try (and discuss).
Heartland Wine Bar - Really liked Heartland. Nice atmosphere, very attentive (but not overbearing) service. The app was a trout mousse with a blueberry smoked duck jam. I wasn't sure how that was going to work, but there were chunks of duck and blueberry in the jam. The combination of sweet and smokey was very nice. The trout mousse was also wonderful, but they didn't seem to go together. They did not play off each other, so I just ate them seperately. My entre was walnut gnocci. The walnut taste was pronounced and very savory. The gnocci were tender, just not quite a light as I prefer. I really like there drink assortment. I choose a Normandy cider to go with my meal. I could have chosen to better enhance my dishes (I ordered it before I chose), but who cares - I love Normandy Cider. Made me crave mussels, though.
Colossal Cafe - After the raving over their pancakes, I had to go. Good think I picked last Sunday, because they are going dark for a couple of weeks. (They'll reopen the first weekend in Feb.) I ordered a full stack, but they were almost out of batter and so I switched to a short stack and some bacon. WOW. Those are some good pancakes. The yeast gives them an almost sour tang and they are so fluffy. I had them plain, but next time I'll get fruit. They seemed to cry out for it. The bacon was crisp but not burned. I'm glad I got the short stack, because I was pleasantly full when I was done. If I got one more pancake, I would have been stuffed and would have been able to roll home to StP.
That's it so far. Happy eating everyone.
All the previous posts have me salivating, so I hate to dumb this down - but I will.
After waaay too much Midwestern holiday cooking, I wanted some good fried rice. To me, that means the Village Wok in Stadium Village. Yes, it has very-neatly-diced-frozen-carrots and peas. But the flavor imparted by a good hot carbon steel wok is very evident in the pile of rice you get for under five bucks. Get the roast pork fried rice. It's great. Talk about wok hai.
Atmosphere is "what it is" and some seafood can be great. But it's the fried rice that keeps me coming back.
I've been craving fried rice, too - must be the season. I used to drive across town for the special fried rice at the Rainbow, but I haven't had it for years. Today, I had the chicken fried rice from U Garden - nice, but nothing earth-shaking.
I'd love to hear about other fried-rice favorites around town!
I miss the Nankin's fried rice. It was the best in town. After they closed up shop, one of their head line cooks went to Anoka and brought much of the menu to China Kitchen Buffet. It had outstanding fried rice, oyster wings and lo mein. Now it's Nhong's Roast Beef and something or another. Basically the same menu, plus roast beef. Strange I know, but it's not bad at all if you're up near Anoka (7th ave. across from the high school).
Aside from the Nankin recipe, I loved the house fried rice with dragon sauce from the Unicorn Express in the Towle building, then they too closed their doors. Now I'm still struggling to find a nice dark, bbq pork fried rice.
Bombay 2 Deli - Fantastic somosas. Very good lentil soup (special of the day). And my favorite...the wonderful paneer makhani. We picked it up last Friday night and the place was really busy. We were in line for 20 minutes before we could even order. The woman who helped us -- the owner's daughter? -- told us that Indians only come on the weekends. Business is really bad the rest of the week. Sound familiar? I'm going to make the effort to get there Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Food Court @ United Noodle - Decided on the $6.99 plate where you choose 3 items. I was in a mood for pork, so chose the Lion's Head meatballs, barbecued pork, and a tender simmered pork with cabbage. All were outstanding. It was a Sunday afternoon, and it was also packed. I was the only non-Asian person I saw for the 1/2 hour I was there. Gotta love it.
China Jen - Took the family there for the first time. My wife enjoyed the seafood and tofu hot pot, while the kids liked the juicy pork pao. None of them are quite as adventurous eaters as me, so I was pleased they liked my favorites.
Durango Bakery - For my birthday, my family picked up a variety of desserts from the Durango on Central Ave. They knew I love the Tres Leche cake, so got me a slice. I could eat it every day.
Town Talk - ate at the bar, fabulous service and food. Had the grilled cheese with avocado, yummy. Folks next to us ordered the Beet Salad and a some kind of lamb stew. Looked delicious!
Crescent Moon - had a spinach pie, very good, want to try the pizzas next.
Food Court @ United Noodle - This is my favorite place for homestyle chinese food. Had beef noodle soup as well as several deli items including Lion's Head (chinese style pork meatballs), tea-soy eggs, garlic rice, and sticky rice (SO GOOD! reminscent of the stuff you get in the banana leaves in dimsum, but better IMHO) plus I got some smoked fish and stewed duck wings to go.
Korea house? forgot the name, but the fairly new korean restaurant in Stadium Village. Had the duk mandoo gook, which is rice cakes with dumplings in a beef broth, so good for the cold.
We were gone until the 8th and (unfortunately) haven't had time to hit anything new or creative since then.
Origami - we sat at the sushi bar and ordered mostly staples so the experience was fine although nothing special.
Aster Cafe - we had breakfast there with my father in law who was passing through town. This place drives me crazy, the food is great, the space is really cute (and next door to husband's office) but the staff is so annoying - either unfriendly or forgetful. It makes you not want to spend your money there.
Mediterranean Cruise Cafe (Eagan) - we went there on Friday night based on the recommendation of a friend. Although it's not worth the trip frequently it was actually quite fun and the food was fairly good. We got the appetizer sampler for 4 and it was enough for the 4 of us for our entire dinner. They had belly dancing which was not overly loud or intrusive. The place was packed, and everyone had reservations so it must be a regular spot for locals.
Town Hall Brewery - friends are regulars and belong to their pint club so I come along some times. I had a French organic cider which was excellent, not too sweet like other ciders I've had.
Pizza Luce - we grabbed an early dinner at the Lyndale and 34th (?) location. I do love their spinach salad but wouldn't head there unless others suggest it.
Marla's Indian and Carribean Cuisine - For a dinner of Indian dishes (I resisted the call of the curried goat). Tasty and slightly different from other Indian food in town. The rice pudding (kheer) was excellent! Marla's grandmother is Punjabi, but the family moved to Trinidad, then Minnesota. And what a charming couple - they stopped by to chat and tell us about the special dishes they have in the Sunday buffet. I gotta go back.
Birchwood - Had a turkey burger (this one had quince relish) and loved it! Didn't like the frisee salad - the huge pieces were hard to eat, and the dressing was boring. (A rare klinker; I usually love everything on the Birchwood menu.) And the fantastic black-bottom banana cream pie could bring about world peace and universal happiness, if only everyone could have a slice.
U Garden - Tried their new noodle soup menu. I had BBQ pork and wonton soup. Quite nice - a beefier broth than other places' soups - and chock full of baby bok choy. Mr. Tastebud had the pad thai, which was very different and unexpected - it was basically a Chinese noodle dish with peanuts on top. Once I got over expecting the Thai-style dish with spicy coconut-milk sauce, I decided that I liked this version a lot. (The Chinese owner of U Garden is from Cambodia, so maybe this is the fusion-cuisine version he grew up with.) Just don't expect the familiar pad thai if you order it.
Clancy's Meats & Fish (not a restaurant, but they have prepared food) - Bought duck confit (legs), roasted garlic, and imported Spanish boquerones (sardines). Wow! $6 of duck confit on some lettuce made a HUGE salad for the two of us, and was as good as anything I've ever had in France. With the garlic on baguette toasts, it was a feast. (I ate the sardines before Mr. Tastebud even saw them...) Oh, I love Clancy's!
Chamber's Kitchen (Dec. 30) - A fun meal with friends. Started with the Sesame Crab Cake which was pretty good but not knock your socks off. Likewise with the Striped Bass in spices with a sweet and sour sauce. (The best meals at the table looked like they were the lobster, the duck a l'orange - which was great on a previous visit - and the walleye.) Dessert of salted caramel ice cream. Service was great, although I didn't like the waiter's personality too much - he was a little to snide, particularly since I think he was looking down his nose at us.
Park Tavern (New Year's Eve) - Unremarkable bar food, although the kids got macaroni and cheese curds which was something I'd never seen before. They were bunches of Kraft-style macaroni and cheese that were dipped in batter and then deep fried like cheese curds. Very strange and about how you'd imagine them to taste.
Jun Bo (New Years Day brunch) - We got there around 10:30 and it seemed like they may have been expecting a larger crowd. It was the first dim sum experience for the family we were with, so there was nothing too adventurous. The scallop dumplings and shu mai were great. Some of the dim sum was a little cold when served. By the time we left around 11:45 the place was hopping and I bet the food was a little fresher. Of the 4 times we've been there, I thought that the food was at its weakest. Nothing bad, but we'll try to remember to be there at prime eating hours next time.
Dashen (Friday night) - Went out to dinner with some friends around 7:30 on Friday. We had hoped to go to the Town Talk, but it was packed and we didn't want to wait, so we went two doors down to Dashen. I love Ethiopian food, and we really liked Dashen the first time we went, but things seem to have gone down hill in the 2 or 3 times since we first went. We always get the sampler and the vegetarian sampler. Portions were definitely smaller than past visits and the food was fine. I've yet to try Queen of Sheeba or Fasika, so we'll probably go there before returning to Dashen.
After Dashen, we went to The Craftsman for dessert. Great ginger stout cake with pear compote.
Peninsula (takeout - Friday). Kids got Thai Egg Roll, Roti and pork fried rice. I finished the pork fried rice and it was pretty good. I always enjoy their achar appetizer. I had the curry tofu hot pot -- excellent flavor and the consistency of the tofu was great. My wife had the Indian Mee Goreng, which is the first thing that I've had from Peninsula that I didn't really like too much. It was fine, but I don't think that I especially like the squid flavoring. (I love squid, but this just didn't suit my taste.)
Edina Grill (weekend breakfast). This was one of our old reliable breakfast places until recently. Life has become busier on weekend mornings, so we don't get out as much. We've been to the new version of the Edina Grill a couple of times, and the menu is basically the same. (They've been tinkering with it over the past few years -- it looks like it's become a little more corporate.... I always liked the jam on the table and other small touches that aren't there any more. Now it's the prepacked jellies.) Older son had Andrew's Killer Banana Waffle - which is no longer sold as such. This was better than the last few times we had it -- the topping was thicker than it has been recently. I had the smoked salmon scramble which is always good.
re: bob s
I forgot - we did make it to the Edina Grill this month. We had a chance to speak with the manager, who said she's in the middle of redesigning the menu. We offered some suggestions, including throwing a couple of poached eggs on top of the duck hash and serving it as a brekkers entree!
Maybe you should call with some ideas.
Just a few faves and locals:
The Monte - still terrific Szechuan green bean app.
Koyi - still wonderful melt-in-your-mouth sushi.
Moose & Sadies - still the best huevos rancheros in town.
Runyon's - still those great Buffalo shrimp (well, actually, Santa Fe shrimp on the menu, but it's steamed shrimp finished in Buffalo sauce).
Keegan's - still spotty fish & chips (better some nights than others) but worth it for the live Irish music and kitchen dances on Sunday nights.
Pracna - I do so want to like this place. It's convenient for catching a movie at St. Anthony Main, and the friends I took there Friday night loved their grilled walleye and salmon caesar salad. And a great selection of taps. But, my tomato soup was sickly sweet. And their walleye fingers don't compare to many other places. And their crinkle fries were predictably squishy. Sigh.
I hear you on Moose & Sadies (oh the ginger limeade in the summer is a TREAT!). Great salads for lunch as well. They always seem to have the freshest/perfectly ripe avacados.
My best bet at Keegan's is the beef stew or the Guiness pie. You still can't beat the F&C at Brits. (I'm not hearing you Local and Kieran's fans)
Pracna has so much potential and so little ambition to change from the "grilled chicken caesar/fettuccine alfredo/chicken and wild rice soup-recipes-for-a-boring-palate" curse. It is such a relaxing place, especially in the summer on the sidewalk sipping Stellas, but I'll be darned if I'll ask for a menu.
The one and only time I had F&C at Brits it was abysmal and I never went back. That was three years ago or so. I hope they've improved. And the Irish music at Keegan's makes up for the food, whereas the drunken 20somethings at Brit's just make the whole experience worse. Maybe if I tried it on a Sunday, but this time of year that's a long walk, even in the skyway.
And - to StPaulSusie - Pracna is still open and has the pride of being Minneapolis' oldest living bar.
My problem with the beef stew and Guiness pie is that I can't/don't eat beef or pork or lamb or ....
A drunken anything-something is annoying, though I see more people in their 20s at Keegans surely due to it's proximity to campus.
If you do not enjoy a party atmosphere, I suggest a visit for Saturday lunch. A two piece and a pint of Old Speckled Hen makes a cold day warmer.
PS. Meat is really really delicious. ;)
Copied from the Chambers Kitchen thread:
I had dinner at Chambers Saturday night and we all loved it, and thought the prices were actually quite reasonable.
Japanese sashimi. Simply outstanding. Fresh, excellent thin cuts of sashimi and the herbs made a wonderful accent.
Fragrant Mushroom egg rolls. Mediocre at best. The mushrooms seemed overcooked, but the sauce was great. A nice fresh sauce with it as well. Not wasabi, but rather a member of the ginger family.
Duck l'orange. I prefer my duck to not be smoky. Wasn't a big fan, but it was done perfectly.
Sea Bass. I don't like sea bass at all, but those who did raved.
Black pepper sirloin. Very nicely done, excellent black pepper, sake and chili reduction on it. Flavor was outstanding.
Mahi-Mahi with Malaysian chili sauce and thai basil and celery. Simply amazing. The fish was done perfectly, whiter than mahi mahi typically is, they did a wonderful job preparing it to be cooked to remove the bloodline and silver flesh. The seasoning crust was excellent and the chili sauce was a perfect blend to go along with the fish.
Four cocktails, two starters, four entrees and one bottle of reasonable wine for a grand total of $300 including tip. Not badly priced at all. Better price point and better food than Murray's, Manny's or Morton's, not to mention we loved the stark atmosphere and 80's soundtrack. A great meal. We will definitely go back.
Speaking of sea bass, Lurcat has a miso sea bass on their menu right now (possibly for awhile, I'm not sure). The server said it's their most popular dish. I thought, "Of course it is. Miso and sea bass - how original."
A friend ordered this dish and I have to say it was outstanding. It was so delicate, sweet, and salty. I'd highly recommend that to anyone iffy on sea bass. Forgot to mention that in my other post.
Let's see, I've been to quite a few new places in 2007 (one of my goals for the year).
Town Talk Diner - FINALLY made it and it's fantastic. One of my favorite places now and high up on the list of places to take out of towners.
Morelos @ The Hub - pretty darn good Mexican. Went there for a friend's birthday last night. The pork tamales are really good as are the enchiladas. I also enjoyed the wide variety of delicious non-alcoholic drinks. The Hibiscus Flower was great.
Chambers - had a board dinner there and had the same tasting menu as I did at the beginning of November. Still think the carrot lime puree served with the steak is out of this world, but overall a little disappointed by the same menu.
Broders - pizza is still good there
Caffrey's Deli - have you had their Hot Shot Italian sandwich? To die for - mostly at 2am. :)
Lucia's - darn good - if they ever close I might kill myself.
Colossal Cafe - excellent breakfast. Good omelettes, frittatas, etc.
Cafe Lurcat - weird service, but great food. The pork tenderloin was very delicious. The ahi was fresh and delicious, but somewhat uninspired (lemon and soy).
My one and only (so far) Town Talk Diner experience (for dinner) was terrific. I was initially disappointed by the limited menu. I didn't feel like a salad (althought they had some interesting ones, including one with beets, which I normally would have gone for--love beets!), so it left me with a choice of burgers or their pricier entrees. I didn't feel like springing just under $20 for the lamb stew, the sweet potato risotto, or the pork chops, so I got a burger. There were a couple of other choices, too, though I don't remember the details. Salmon something--salad, I think, and free-range chicken breast something, and steak. It looks like you can get the pancakes any time of day.
The burgers (which are 1/2 lb monsters) start about $9'ish, and go progressively up from there as you add cheese, bacon, and the whole kitchen sink. The kitchen sink sauce--which was thousand island dressing-like-- adds an interesting kick. And the garlic fries, with the citrus-y mayo they serve on the side, are fantastic. They had a butternut squash soup that was to die for, hint of cayenne, I think.
So, I'm guessing the entrees are worth the price, but I just wanted an entree in the $12-$14 range that wasn't a hamburger. (There's just no pleasing some people!)
Overall, it was a great meal. In spite of the improvements they've made to buffer the echoing sound, it's still loud. The wines by the glass were really affordable, and the beer selection is good, but there's nothing on tap. While the wines by the glass seemed slightly under-priced, the beer seemed slightly overpriced.
What's going to stop this from being a favorite of ours is it forces me to cross the invisible boundary out of St. Paul beyond which I turn into a pumpkin, the noise, and the fact that, for diner food, even very tasty high-quality diner food, it's pretty pricy--$54, with tax and tip, for burgers and beverages for two people. Service was outstanding, by the way. If we'd gone for the full entrees, we'd be priced at the low-end of 112 Eatery range and if we're going to roll our pumpkins selves all the way to Minneapolis, might as well take our chances at the bar at 112 Eatery!
But, it's a cut above the Highland/Longfellow siblings (although, I think the Highland and Longfellow siblings have more extensive menus), and way above Chatterbox and what it tries to be.
The nicest surprise of all was, after we declined to order anything from the dessert menu, they brought us some teensy, melt-in-your mouth, chocolate-covered peanut butter balls, dusted in cocoa. It was nice to end on a sweet note.
Alma - excellent - one of the best meals I've had.
Lexington - ate at the bar - great service, great food, 4 glasses of wine & 2 excellent entrees with tip & tax $100
Cafe 128 - reliable, good service, great meal, the place was empty!
I've been visiting the Il vesco vino on selby for pre or post dinner wine and the new 3rd floor bar has opened and the food has looked better than when I ate there in Dec. Might have to give it another shot. They updated the menu & its very promising! It was packed.
re: St Paul Susie
Why don't I instead link to reports I've written, instead of re-writing them? (EDIT: So, I thought all I was going to do was link to a bunch of reports but, lo and behold, there are a lot of places I ate I hadn't reported on. Who knew!)
Midtown Global Market (Lake @ Chicago, Mpls):
YAY! especially Taqueria Los Ocampo (al pastor huaraches #3 & #6), La Sirena Gorda (the deep fried tilapia platter), and the goat from Bymore meats.
YAY! on A la Salsa's mole chicken with tamales
Chatterbox Pub (St. Paul):
Nay! on the burgers, sandwiches, and appetizers.
And, I continue to love the Molliter Lucy at The Nook on Hamline and Randolph in St. Paul, on the fresh bakery-made bun with the handcut fries together with cherry coke made the old fashioned way.
Also, I continue to love the portabella mushroom sandwich at the Groveland Tap in St. Paul (St. Clair near Fairview), as well as their spicy Cajun Lucy (jalapeno-stuffed burger.) This time of year, the chili hits the spot, too: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/360234#2188404
For breakfast and relaxing with the Sunday paper, I like the tofu scramble at the Coffee News Cafe in St. Paul (on Grand Ave, West of Snelling), though the toast and potatoes that come with it aren't extraordinary.
Also, for just your day to day weekend breakfast joint, I like Longfellow Grill (Mpls); its sister, Highland Grill (Cleveland at Ford Parkway in St. Paul) is a good spot, too, though louder. When I was there recently, I got the meatloaf and subbed the sweet potato fries (yum!) for the mashed potatoes. It was pretty good.
Oh! we went to Matty B's in downtown St. Paul recently. It was better than I expected and a pretty good execution of the "supper club" experience. I liked the breads with the various spreads that they brought. The lobster bisque was nice enough. For my entree, I had the pork chops with garlic mashed potatoes, not spectacular by any means, but certainly competent. I keep hearing about the bad service there. Our server was polite, prompt, helpful--not sure what more one could ask for.
Finally, the biggest cheat of all. We tried that "assemble your own frozen dinner place" in downtown Highland Park (on Cleveland just north of Ford Parkway) to have some back-up meals to throw in the oven for dinner off and on over the next month or two since we expect to be so swamped. We found it pretty good actually. Of course you could do it better yourself, but, when you are spread super-thin for evening meal prep, it's not a bad way to go.
re: The Dairy Queen
I keep meaning to tell this story about Chatterbox: a friend of Paz' took her kids there and they ordered the mac and cheese for kids off the for kids section and it came with JALAPENOS on top. They are so full of themselves at Chatterbox, so determined to be cute and quirky they don't think things through. I have never liked anything I have eaten there. So if TDQ doesn't like the burgers, sandwiches or apps, what does she like? Just to stay on topic.
Alice - Chatterbox is quite overrated. The service we had last night was horrendous. I've rarely been treated so rudely by an entire staff.
I was also annoyed that their Ginger Ale "From Scratch" was nothing more than the worst mixture of Sprite & Coke I've had.
Won't be back there.
re: St Paul Susie
Agreed, excellent beer selection. The Young's double chocolate stout is worth the price of admission.
I actually found that I rather liked the fried catfish and sweet potato fries. Made a nice variation from the typical fish and chips so many places serve. However, my wife hated her sqush wrap, our other diners weren't thrilled with the build your own mac & cheese. The caramel apple crisp was mediocre.
However, the absolute worst part of dinner was the abysmal cheese curd starter. I don't recall seeing the word "garlic" or "garlicky" anywhere on the menu, yet I do believe the mozz curds were deep fried in garlic oil, with a garlic batter and may have actually been garlic rather than mozzarella after all. I forced everyone at the table to eat one just so I made sure I wasn't losing my mind. I couldn't believe how god awful they were, and it came close to ruining the rest of the meal for me, as I continued to revisit the garlic for the next four hours.
The cheese curds did us in, too. Thank you for saying what I couldn't figure out to say more delicately. I don't remember the garlic, except for the after-effect you describe; what stood out was the chili pepper.
I may have to try the catfish or the quesadilla, should I ever venture in again. I prefer Longfellow/Highland's sweet potato fries (C'box pub batters and fries them), but maybe the catfish needs the special battered accompanyment.
re: The Dairy Queen